Which semi-auto?


November 22, 2009, 12:32 AM
I'm trying to decide on a semi-auto rifle (I have one or two others but no semi-autos, and nothing in 5.56 or 7.62x39). My budget is low, ideally cost would be around $500 (new or used - yes most likely used). It should be reliable, reasonably accurate, and easy to clean/maintain. Wood furniture is a big plus. Detachable magazine only (not interested in the SKS). The current shortlist includes the Mini 14 & 30, AK47 variants and Saigas. The mini 14 seems to get mixed reviews in terms of accuracy. The WASR 10s seem to be quite cheap, but I understand accuracy and build quality can be major issues if you don't know what to look for. There are some US-made AK variants but I haven't started to look at those in detail. Saigas seem like a decent option. How do they compare to a Mini 14?
Finally, how do 5.56 and 7.62 ammo costs compare?

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November 22, 2009, 12:36 AM
There is one option that makes sense for your budget. A preconverted Saiga from K-VAR for $500. You can't beat that deal with a stick.

I know you want wood, you'll have to change out the furniture later. Get yourself a nice Ironwood Design furniture set later and make it all nice and pretty.

Go with 7.62x39 since you are on a budget. It'll be cheaper.

November 22, 2009, 12:45 AM
The newest mini-142 (tapered barrel 58x series) have proven to be much more accurate than their predecessors, but accuracy is still in the 2 MOA range with most ammo. Whether or not this is acceptable depends on the use and user. The mini is also a couple hundred dollars over your $500 limit if you buy new.

The basic Saiga is a very good gun for the money, particularly if function trumps any other trait. 7.62x39 vs 5.56x45 cost - it depends. The days of ultra cheap 7.62 are long gone, but it can still be had relatively cheaply - but you end up with cheap ammo. I'd pick the platform and then the caliber. Either will serve well, unless you are intending to hunt, in which case many states prohibit hunting large game with 5.56.

I recently acquired a 580 series mini-14 in used but like new condition. I am seeing quite a few military style semi-autos showing up for sale used as the economy continues to tighten, so look around. I spent $450 on my Mini. Any savings was soon gobbled up by 'extras'. :)


November 22, 2009, 12:58 AM
I rather like the Mini-30, it is available with 20rnd magazines (factory ones...that are reliable) has the advantage cheap plinking ammo and handles much better than an AK (at least for me), whilst being a good bit more accurate; that said I don't own one. I am not a big fan of SS, and they are no longer made in blued steel.


November 22, 2009, 02:28 AM
The Saiga is a heck of a deal.

November 22, 2009, 02:39 AM
Detachable magazine only (not interested in the SKS)

I think you should re-think this. Not to long ago a friend of mine bought two, for under 500. The SKS is LOADS more accurate than the AK, far more reliable than an AR and made of all steel/wood. It is still proving itself on the battlefield, and has for the past 60+ years. If you buy one, you will never regret it and might find yourself wanting at least 2 or 3 more. IMHO, they are the best battle proven rifle for the money. To me, they are far superior rifle to the AR or an AK (no comments don't try to persuade me differently).

November 22, 2009, 11:31 AM
Thanks for the ideas so far. I just added the Mini 30 to the mix.

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